October 1, 2017, New York – In response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
CCR stands in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico as they fight to survive and recover from an escalating humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the political failings of the Trump administration and Congress. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane María pummeled the island, and Hurricane Irma before that, most of the population is still without power; and drinking water, fuel, food, and essential medical care are scarce, resulting in a rising death toll. Meanwhile, the president of the United States’ only response has been a deplorable, victim-blaming tirade, while Congress has deferred and deflected its responsibility to appropriate essential aid funds. The hurricane’s physical destruction was devastating, and the violent aftermath, silence, and inaction is #Category5Cruelty. This is an escalation of more than a century of U.S. colonial violence against Puerto Rico, which has resulted in mass unemployment, poverty, infrastructure divestment, and lack of social services—a U.S.-made “debt crisis” couched in the language of fiscal responsibility, in service of colonialism and white supremacy.
Echoing the demands of the Puerto Rican people fighting for their survival and freedom, we call for the official recognition of a state of humanitarian crisis; the immediate full repeal of the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920) to enable the free flow of goods for anyone who wishes to show solidarity; the repeal of the PROMESA law, which has handed over the governance of Puerto Rico to a colonial fiscal control board of non-elected officials; and the removal of any conditions that could delay or limit the reach of aid from U.S. federal agencies.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.